Area organization pleased with approval of Senate bill that expands seniors’ income limits for Medicaid
The Washington State Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 5745, which expands Medicaid services to older adults and people with physical disabilities, with support from local lawmakers and advocacy from members of the Washington State Advisory Board. Regional Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington (AAADSW).
Mike Reardon, the agency’s executive director, said the bill’s approval was a victory for people receiving Medicaid home services and supports.
“This doubled the amount of money the individual is allowed to keep for personal needs such as rent (or) mortgage payments, food, utilities, transportation and other personal expenses,” said Reardon said.
He said the bill allows individuals to put more of their money “back in their pockets so they can make ends meet on a daily and monthly basis.”
According to Reardon, the current Personal Needs Allowance is $1,074.
“For example, if I have an income of $1,600 a month, anything over that $1,074, I would have to pay for the cost of my care,” Reardon explained. “Now that the cap is increased to $2,500, that person could keep all that extra money and pay for their personal needs, instead of putting it towards the cost of their care. It’s really based on an individual’s monthly income.
Another provision of the bill provides Medicaid recipients with long-term services and support.
Reardon said he was grateful for the “hard work” of local lawmakers and members of the AAADSW advisory board for helping move the bill forward.
“They supported SB5745 and made sure the bill got through the legislative process in a short session and they did it successfully,” he said. “It was a tremendous boost to get this bill through this process. All lawmakers in the 17th, 18th, and 49th wards voted in favor of this bill, Democrats and Republicans alike, so there was bipartisan support. This was a tremendous victory for those eligible people.
He also recognizes the urgency of the bill, especially with the economic problems the COVID-19 pandemic has caused.
“Imagine being able to live on just $1,074 a month. It’s not a lot, especially in light of inflation and housing costs,” Reardon said. “But now if your income is over $1,074, you’re allowed to keep a lot more of your own money to buy a birthday present for your grandson or granddaughter or maybe be able to go out to dinner. at the restaurant, whereas before, you would ask yourself ‘how am I going to make ends meet?’
Reardon said the bill was “strongly supported from the outset”. The advisory board, Reardon and lawmakers met via Zoom to discuss its importance. Council members were also voters in the legislators’ districts, he said.
“It was passed by an overwhelming majority in both the House and the Senate. I think there may have been less than five negative votes in the House and Senate combined statewide,” Reardon said. “I think this is legislation that is well supported and well understood by our legislators. Kudos to them.
SB5745 is effective July 1.
More information about AAADSW can be found online at helpelders.org.